News & Events

From the Executive Officer

September 14, 2020

It is finally Spring. There are signs of new life: bulbs emerging through the winter soil, birds nesting and trees waking up. It has been a very difficult winter for us all locked up in our homes as we endeavour to beat the pandemic.

As I write this, I am relieved that the number of active and mystery cases are reducing. I, like many of you, are looking forward to hearing what the next steps are after these current restrictions.  There have been times when there seemed to be no end in sight, and we are all longing to see each other smile and spend time together.

As you will read in this newsletter, our team has adapted on many fronts to working under the strict Stage 4 requirements. And there have been some surprising benefits emerging which we had not anticipated. One wonderful story from an art therapist describes how using zoom with mums and children living in the community has enabled her to gain a snapshot into home life which she would not necessarily see.

Another of our staff describes how the lockdown has made her adapt the way she practices art therapy with a young boy she is working with. While she is limited with the materials she can use, the situation is forcing her to think laterally to make a safe and creative space to produce the results the young boy needs.

Our refuge, which opened in May, is home currently to five families. While the communal areas are not able to be used, every family is enjoying feeling secure and ready to work towards their new lives. Mothers, for the first time, have room to themselves and the children are loving being able to tear around the gardens on bikes.

Lockdown has resulted in an alarming surge in family violence in Victoria, and we have been delighted with the government response both in funding and practical initiatives. However, reform does need to speed up, and we make this point in our submission to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor, which you can also read about in this newsletter.

In all, Emerge has made eleven recommendations ranging from fully funding specialised services that improve women’s safety, to more investment into ensuring CALD women and children understand the dangers of the virus and the impact it may have on their lives, and ensuring that vacant rental properties are made available to women and children and rent is paid for by the government.

May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing support for our work, to our volunteers who continue to engage with us – nothing is too much trouble, to the Board with its advice and guidance through these difficult times. Lastly to my staff who every day come up with new ways of supporting the women and children we work with and for. The pandemic has brought us all closer together.

Take care, keep safe, keep washing those hands and masking up.

Paula Westhead



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